Japanese superstars B'z trek through America
B'z is the biggest-selling band in Japan, but the group -- now in the midst of its fourth U.S. tour -- is also hoping to make a lasting impression on Americans.
"I think success in America means success in the world," guitarist Tak Matsumoto said in an email interview with SoundSpike.
Formed in 1988, rock band B'z also includes vocalist Koshi Inaba. In its 24 years, B'z has released 18 albums and 50 singles, with 46 singles consecutively debuting at No.1 on Japan's Oricon Single Chart, according to a press release. The group has sold more than 80 million CDs in Japan.
On July 25, B'z released its first English-language album, which includes the single "Info Free-Dangan." It is featured in the videogame "Dragon's Dogma." For the self-titled album, Inaba said, the band chose five songs from its catalog, added English lyrics and new arrangements, and re-recorded them.
The U.S. album release coincides with the current tour, which began in mid-September. Matsumoto said B'z is visiting the East Coast for the first time on this tour.
"It's been a while since I visited NY last time so I'm really looking forward to going back there and also visiting new cities for the tour," he said.
Inaba added, "We had so much fun on the last North American tour in 2011. It's pure pleasure for me to put on a show and have people come to see it. I always enjoy the feeling of excitement and meeting the local people. I'm excited!"
The shows will consist of a mix of Japanese and English songs. Used to playing arenas in Japan, B'z is performing in clubs in the U.S.; it's something that thrills the duo.
"I really like playing there before no big production is involved," Matsumoto said. "I can focus on playing music with just a guitar and an amplifier."
Inaba added, "The audience is very close so I can hear their voices and see their [facial] expressions. It makes me very excited."
Known as Asia's foremost guitar player, Matsumoto has joined legends Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Ace Frehley and Slash to become the fifth guitarist to have his own Gibson signature Les Paul: the Tak Matsumoto Doublecut Custon Ebony Gibson.
"I do remember the time when they approached me in 1998," Matsumoto said. "I couldn't believe it was true until they invited me to the Gibson factory in Nashville. They gave me a warm welcome and we discussed plans for my signature model there. My first signature Les Paul issued a year later."
26 - Toronto, Ontario - Sound Academy
28 - Silver Spring, MD - The Fillmore
30 - New York City, NY - Best Buy Theater
7 - Los Angeles, CA - Gibson Amphitheatre